SOAS University of London

Centre of World Christianity

International and Interdisciplinary Conference: Pentecostalism and Development


Date: 5 September 2014Time: 12:00 AM

Finishes: 6 September 2014Time: All Day

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Conference

The eighth international and interdisciplinary of the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent) is organised by the Centre of World Christianity and will be hosted at SOAS, University of London on 5th & 6th September 2014. The conference theme is "Pentecostalism and Development".

Conference Theme

Pentecostal Christianity (including its many variants) has undoubtedly become one of the major religious forces in the so-called “developing world”. This has major implications for numerous parameters in development initiatives, such as politics, social relations, inter-religious affairs, gender roles, and household economics. However, the academic analysis of these implications has been constrained by a number of factors. Firstly, Pentecostalism's emphasis on individual conversion and its outer-worldly ontology have tended to eclipse the multiple and even contradictory ways the movement has engaged with the practice of development. Secondly, the academic debate about Pentecostalism's impact on development has been a controversial one, with opinions varying between attributing Pentecostals with a new “Protestant Ethic” leading to an “upward social mobility” and seeing them as complicit with the development failures of the “gatekeeper state”. Finally, in development studies the role of religions has largely been seen as problematic or simply ignored, which is a lack now gradually being addressed by new publications and development programmes.

Given this current re-appraisal of the role of religions in development studies and the need for a reassessment of Pentecostalism's influence on development initiatives, this conference addresses a highly relevant theme. Three keynotes will frame the conference debate by addressing the most pressing conceptual questions from the disciplinary vantage points of cultural anthropology, development studies, and religious studies. Issues of practice will be explored in a panel discussion featuring experts actively involved in development initiatives with Pentecostal actors. In addition, the conference offers over forty papers in parallel panels, which address specific themes of the conference topic and present ongoing research on Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.

About Our Keynote Speakers

Matthew Clarke is  Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University (Australia). He has worked widely on the subject of religions and development and is the author of Development and Religion as well as editor of the Handbook of Research on Religion and Development. His keynote will present the ongoing debate about the role of religion in development with regard to the specifics of Pentecostalism, considering the basic tenets of development theory and practice and contrast them against Pentecostal theological teaching and practice.

Dena Freeman is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics . She is a specialist in Southern Ethiopia and has worked extensively on issues related to religions and development, recently editing the volumePentecostalism and Development. Her keynote will re-examine the question whether Pentecostalism represents cultural rupture or continuity in light of its implications for development.

Tomas Sundnes Drønen is Professor for Global Studies and Religion at the School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, Norway. He is an expert on Pentecostalism, Globalisation and Islam in Northern Cameroon and is currently editing a forthcoming volume on Religions and Development. His keynote will chart a comprehensive religious studies approach to Pentecostalism and development in light of the multifarious theological resources of the movement and its adaptation to religiously plural contexts.


See full programme for panel papers or download full programme and abstracts.

5 September 2014 (Friday)
12:00–13:00 Registration and Refreshments
13:00–13:30 Conference Welcome and Opening Address

Jörg Haustein, Lecturer in Religions in Africa, SOAS, University of London
Gurharpal Singh, Dean of Faculty of Arts & Humanities, SOAS, University of London

13:30–15:00 Plenary 1 – Keynote Development Studies

Friend or Foe? Finding Common Ground between Development and Pentecostalism New Insights into Old Questions
Matthew Clarke, Head of School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University (Australia)

Response: Michael Jennings, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, SOAS, University of London

15:00–15:30 Refreshments
15:30–18:30 Parallel Session 1 

see full programme for panel papers
Panel 1A: Megachurches and Social Engagement
Panel 1B (Part 1): Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements in Contemporary China
Panel 1B (Part 2): Pentecostalism and Interreligious Boundaries
Panel 1C: Mind the Gap – Pentecostalism, Development and the Welfare-State
Panel 1D: Pentecostal Entrepreneurship, Development Initiatives, and Social Mobility

18:30–19:30 Refreshments
19:30–21:00 Plenary 2 – Keynote Religious Studies

Material Development and Spiritual Empowerment? Pentecostalism in Northern Cameroon
Tomas Sundnes Drønen, Prof. for Global Studies and Religion, School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, Norway

Response: David Maxwell, Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Cambridge University

6 September 2014 (Saturday)
09:00-10:30 Plenary 3 – Keynote Social Anthropology

Rupture and Continuity in Pentecostalism and the Implications for Development
Dena Freeman, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics

Response: Birgit Meyer, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Utrecht

10:30-11:00 Refreshments
11:00-12:30 Parallel Session 2

see full programme for panel papers
Panel 2A: Pentecostalism and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa
Panel 2B: Media, Charisma and the Constitution of Pentecostal Authority
Panel 2C: Gender in Pentecostal Experience and Development
Panel 2D: Transcultural Dynamics & Migrant Pentecostalism

12:30-13:30 Refreshments
13:30-15:00 Plenary 4 – Panel Discussion: Issues of Practice in Pentecostalism and Development

Daniel Akhazemea, Redeemed Christian Church of God, London
Mike Battcock, UK Department for International Development (DFID)
Rick James, International NGO Training and Research Centre, Oxford
Claudia Währisch-Oblau, Vereinigte Evangelische Mission, Wuppertal, Germany

Chair: Carol Rakodi, Emeritus Professor, Director Religions and Development Research Programme, University of Birmingham

15:00-15:30 Conference farewell

Conference Fee, Registration, and Accommodation

Registration is required of all participants.

Registration fee includes attendance at the conference, tea/coffee breaks and light lunch.

Cost of ticket

*SOAS Staff and students must show a valid student ID card on the day.

Online Registration (now closed)
please e-mail if you are not registered but still planning to attend

Cancellation and refund policy

Cancellations must be reported in writing to the Conference Manager.  Cancellations must be received by 5 August 2014 in which case registration fees will be refunded, less a £5 processing fee.  No refund will be given to cancellations received after 5 September 2014.

The conference organiser would like to thank the following institutions for generously supporting the conference:

  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities, SOAS
  • Bread for the World – Protestant Development Service
  • Evangelisches Missionswerk

Organiser: Dr J├Ârg Haustein, Department of the Study of Religions

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4731